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Thomas Cook cautious for 2017 despite 'solid' start to new year

11 February 2017

It said it has seen a massive surge in popularity in bookings for Majorca and the Canary Islands where hotel prices have risen by eight per cent as a result of the increased demand.

This is helping offset the tougher market in Spain, in particular Majorca and the Canary Islands, with hotels increasing prices by six per cent to eight per cent after seeing surging demand past year.

Fankhauser said an expanded holiday offering to Greece and a number of smaller destinations across Europe was paying off, with bookings to Greece now up by over 40%, while demand for destinations such as Cyprus, Bulgaria, Portugal and Croatia has been strong.

Partly because of the prevailing high prices in Spain, bookings to Greece for summer 2017 are up by almost half.

With the European travel outlook remaining highly uncertain and a shareholder battle over bonuses is brewing, Thomas Cook started the year in muted fashion but is still confident it can hit full year targets.

Revenue group rose from £1.62 billion, up from £1.41 billion a year previously, alongside a "seasonal" underlying loss of £49 million.

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In the United Kingdom, winter bookings are 5% higher, with prices 1% lower, while it said average selling prices are 9% higher for the summer.

Bookings overall across the group are one per cent higher for the current winter season and nine per cent higher for summer 2017, with just under a third of holidays sold.

Analyst Laith Khalaf at Hargreaves Lansdown said the broadly flat like-for-like revenues and losses probably represented a small victory against the unfriendly backdrop.

The firm said it was "cautious" about 2017, shares fell by 10 per cent in morning trade.

Standard Life Investments said it had "voted against several of the remuneration resolutions at Thomas Cook's AGM, including the re-election of the remuneration committee chairman and its members", a spokesman said.

But there are concerns over a clause that would allow Mr Fankhauser to claim up to 225% of his £703,800 annual salary - a potential £1.6 million - according to investor group Institutional Shareholder Services.